The second day of my birthday festivities (technically my birthday in the US) I went to Mori Tower with my friend and his sister who was visiting from Hungary. The tower is about 55 stories with an open-air observation deck, as well as an art gallery and several restaurants in the underlying floors. The galleries were holding exhibits on the Egyptian Book of the Dead as well as an extensive one delving into Arabic culture's conflicts, perceptions of individuality and selves and the misrepresentations rampant in foreign cultures. Both were interesting, though the Arabic exhibition was far more enlightening to me due to how much of the material was presented in English. I had previous exposure to the Egyptian material at the London Natural History Museum in 2005, but I will always be curious about Egyptology.
The observation deck of Mori tower offered an astoundingly beautiful view of Tokyo, including the iconic Tokyo Tower, well worth the trip and cost of admission; which would have been relatively cheap if we hadn't gone to both of the exhibits on display in the floors below. We timed it all out in order to see the city by day, sunset and night, which made the cost of admission all the more reasonable. Mori Tower is located in Roppongi, the district mostly associated with it's high density of foreigners and the seedy nightclubs that cater to entertaining them (or us). Mori Tower's location and height enables one to see out towards Kasai (the Diamonds and Flowers ferris wheel barely visible in this photo), out towards Odaiba and a great view of Yoyogi park and the surrounding neighborhoods. Even more astounding, to this foreign girl, was being able to recognize any of the neighborhoods by their landmarks. I could do so while in the Stratosphere tower in Vegas, but I was raised there. I've spent less than a year in/around Tokyo.
For dinner, we closed with my first Mexican food meal in Japan. Growing up in Las Vegas, which is Spanish for "the Meadows", Latin foods are readily available, cheap and delicious...many varieties are represented; from posole and menudo at 24 hours joints with self-serve salsa bars to roach coaches, road-side stands offering arepas and some high-end Tex-mex eateries...my hopes for such foods in Japan were limited, at best. We found ourselves at El Torito, a restaurant that reminds me of the middle range Tex-mex joints popular throughout the US. It was pretty tasty, though being starved for such foods I can't really judge too harshly...and really, Japanese food is so removed from Mexican fare (and geographic proximity) that it's rather endearing they even have it available. So, a big fat YES for taquitos and Negra Modelo! Nevermind that one bottle of Negra Modelo costs the same as an entire six pack in Las Vegas. This IS Tokyo. I have to accept it. Pobrecita, que lastima. So it goes. Of course it won't be the same as what I dished up while working at El Jefe's restaurant and cantina speaking Spanish all night while in high school, that's just how it goes. Bienvenidos! Cumpleanos feliz!
All in all, I had a wonderful birthday and I was very happy to share it with the friends who accompanied me on the adventures. I look forward to all that is to come.